BioEnergy Bytes

  • BioEnergyBytesDFStellar Solar is hosting their annual “Celebration of Solar” Dinner & Open House at their showroom at 4730 Clairemont Mesa Boulevard in San Diego. The event will feature the latest electric cars, trucks and motorcycles from Electric Car Insider Magazine, Kearny Pearson Ford and San Diego BMW Motorcycles. SunEdison will also be on-hand with the latest in solar technology and solar financing including their popular 1.99% solar loan. County Planning Commissioner and Chairman Peder Norby will give a short presentation on his zero-net-energy home and his electric vehicles that are powered entirely by the sun.
  • Over 110 wind farm owners including Iberdrola, NextEra, EDPR, E.ON, Google, Infigen, NRG Energy and EDF Renewable Energy will gather at next week’s Wind O&M Summit in Dallas, Texas April 14-16, 2014 to devise asset life extension and performance enhancement strategies to meet 2020 renewable energy targets.
  • Yingli Green Energy Holding Company Limited has announced the commencement of construction of its two ground-mounted PV plants in Hebei Province. The two projects will have a combined capacity of 25 MW and are located in the cities of Baoding and Xingtai of Hebei Province. The projects are expected to be completed and connected to the grid at the beginning of the third quarter of 2014. Once completed, they will generate approximately 28,700 MWh per year, which is equivalent to offsetting the consumption of 9,300 tons of coal and cutting CO2 emissions by more than 28,700 tons over the systems’ 25-year lifetime.
  • San Diego, California Mayor Kevin Faulconer and other solar advocates gathered at the Mission Bay Aquatic Center, the first net-zero commercial building in San Diego, to celebrate the City of San Diego’s recognition in being ranked the second largest solar producing city in the nation. The report, “Shining Cities: At the Forefront of America’s Solar Energy Revolution” released today by Environment California Research and Policy Center, placed San Diego just behind Los Angeles. The last two consecutive reports by Environment California ranked San Diego as the solar capital of the nation.

Where Your Marketing Dollars are Going

New Holland ZimmPollOur latest ZimmPoll asked the question, “What’s the largest percentage of your 2014 marketing budget?”

It looks like the old faithful form of print marketing tops this week’s ZimmPoll. But what is interesting is that rest of the choices were almost evenly spread across the board, with the newer trends of social media and digital marketing right up there with broadcast and direct mail.

Our poll results:

  • Broadcast – 10%
  • Digital – 15%
  • Direct mail – 10%
  • Print – 25%
  • Social media – 15%
  • Trade show/promo items – 15%
  • Other – 10%

Our new ZimmPoll is now live and asks the question, “Has spring sprung for you yet?”

If you haven’t got a case of Spring Fever, then you must be living in Florida with Chuck and Cindy. Here in the Midwest we had an 80 degree weekend and now are back into the 30′s. I think Mother Nature is a little confused. Are you seeing any signs of spring in your neck of the woods?

Natural Gas, Solar Account for Lion’s Share of Adds

eiaAlternative energy sources made for a good showing of new power-generating capacity added last year. This report from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) shows more than half of the utility-scale power generating capacity added last year came from natural gas-fueled plants, with solar accounting for another 22 percent – a significant increase from just 6 percent in 2012. Wind also accounted for another 8 percent of capacity added.
EIAapriladds
Natural gas capacity additions were … 6,861 MW … added in 2013, compared to 9,210 MW in 2012. The capacity additions came nearly equally from combustion turbine peaker plants, which generally run only during the highest peak-demand hours of the year, and combined-cycle plants, which provide intermediate and baseload power.

Nearly 60% of the natural gas capacity added in 2013 was located in California. The state is facing resource adequacy concerns as well as the need for more flexible generation resources to help complement more variable-output renewable resources, particularly solar, being added to the system.

Solar photovoltaic (PV) added 2,193 MW of capacity in 2013, continuing the trend of the past few years of strong growth, helped in part by falling technology costs as well as aggressive state renewable portfolio standards (RPS) and continued federal investment tax credits. Nearly 75% of the capacity added was located in California, followed by roughly 10% in Arizona.

While wind’s numbers in 2013 were only one-tenth of what it did in 2012, (1,032 MW in 2013 compared to 12,885 MW in 2012), EIA attributed this to producers rushing to take advantage of the federal production tax credit at the end of 2012.

Canola for Biodiesel Breaks Rail Jam, Gains Value

canola3 Joel HornAn up-and-coming feedtsock for biodiesel has broken out of a log jam that kept it from going from the farm fields of Canada to the plants where it could be processed, and that is helping push up its value. This article from Barrons says canola has bounced back from 3 1/2-year lows and could end up gaining 20 percent in value by the middle of this summer.

A railway bottleneck in Canada, the world’s largest exporter of the oilseed, pushed canola prices in February to the lowest since June 2010, because buyers turned to other markets and bought alternative oilseeds like soy and palm oil. But last month, the Canadian government introduced tough railway rules that have helped canola start to flow more freely, traders and growers say, which is drumming up demand.

“Logistical issues in Canada have eased considerably, and this has resulted in export customers returning,” says Sterling Smith, a futures specialist at Citigroup in Chicago. That’s helped front-month prices gain 14% from the Feb. 13 low.

The article goes on to point out how canola is also being helped by higher prices for soybeans and the fact that it is strong in the cooking oil market to nearly double the expected demand for the oilseed by 2015.

NASA to Study Renewable Fuels in Space

Renewable Fuels are getting one stop closer to heading out to space. NASA has signed agreements with the German Aerospace Center (DLR) and the National Research Council of Canada (NRC) to conduct a series of joint flight tests to study the atmospheric effects of emissions from jet engines burning alternative fuels. The Alternative Fuel Effects on Contrails and Cruise Emissions (ACCESS II) flights are set to begin May 7, 2014 and will be flown from NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center in Edwards, California.

“Partnering with our German and Canadian colleagues allows us to combine our expertise and resources as we work together to solve the challenges common to the global aviation community such as understanding emission characteristics from the use of alternative fuels which presents a great potent629321main_ED07-0256-13cial for significant reductions in harmful emissions,” said Jaiwon Shin, NASA’s associate administrator for aeronautics research.

NASA’s DC-8 and HU-25C Guardian, DLR’s Falcon 20-E5, and NRC’s CT-133 research aircraft will conduct flight tests in which the DC-8′s engines will burn a mix of different fuel blends, while the Falcon and CT-133 measure emissions and observe contrail formation.

“Cooperation between DLR and NASA is based on a strong mutual appreciation of our research work,” said Rolf Henke, the DLR Executive Board member responsible for aeronautics research. “We are very pleased to be performing joint test flights for the first time, and thus set an example by addressing pressing research questions in global aviation together.”

ACCESS II is the latest in a series of ground and flight tests begun in 2009 to study emissions and contrail formation from new blends of aviation fuels that include biofuel from renewable sources. ACCESS-I testing, conducted in 2013, indicated the biofuel blends tested may substantially reduce emissions of black carbon, sulfates, and organics. ACCESS II will gather additional data, with an emphasis on studying contrail formation.

RFA: CARB’s ILUC Analysis Out of Date, Out of Step

rfa-logo-09A biofuels advocate is taking exception with one state’s evaluation of indirect land use change associated with the green fuels. The Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) says the California Air Resources Board’s (CARB) draft indirect land use change (ILUC) analysis is not in step with current ILUC science.

Geoff Cooper, RFA’s senior vice president, notes in his submission that RFA is greatly concerned by many aspects of the draft.

Cooper writes, “….several of the assumptions and methodological approaches chosen for CARB’s draft analysis run counter to the recommendations of the Expert Work Group (EWG). In particular, the values selected by CARB for key GTAP elasticities are in conflict with values recommended by EWG and well-known agricultural economists. More generally, CARB’s draft analysis lacks sufficient justification for certain judgment calls made by staff with regard to important model parameters.

“… the results of CARB’s draft analysis are in conflict with the results of recent independent ILUC studies. As described in a recent letter to CARB Chair Mary Nichols from 14 scientists and researchers (including CARB-appointed Expert Work Group members), the corn ethanol ILUC results from CARB’s draft analysis are significantly higher than estimates from recent peer-reviewed scientific analyses…. We believe CARB should explain and justify the divergence of its draft results with estimates from other recent studies.”

RFA addresses key modeling parameters in CARB’s analysis, such as crop yield elasticities and emissions factors, which RFA believes are not in line with what current ILUC science says. In addition, the group says CARB needs to correct in its draft price yield elasticity, what RFA considers to be the single more important factor in the analysis. You can read RFA’s full comment letter here.

Ethanol Industry Testifies About Railroad Issues

The ethanol industry testified during the Surface Transportation Board hearing to discuss issues related to insufficient rail service that the ethanol industry says has resulted in ethanol prices spikes and ethanol plants having to halt production.

ethanol rail car at Patriot EthanolChris Bliley, director of regulatory affairs for Growth Energy said in his testimony, “Make no mistake, these price spikes have not been caused by a lack of ethanol production or supply, but purely because of an inability to get timely rail transportation. In fact, many plants have reduced or even halted production because their storage capacity is fully utilized. There have been numerous examples of our producers having to wait and wait on trains to deliver their product.”

He continued, “On top of the poor and declining rail service, our industry has seen increased tariff rates on certain routes effective April 1. Not only did one railroad give our producers very little notice of the increases, but I dare say, few, if any industries would have the audacity or ability to increase shipping rates while their service has been so poor.

“The bottom line is that the railroad industry has failed in its sole responsibility to transport goods in a timely and effective manner. This failure in service has had a ripple effect on American consumers by increasing the cost of goods and services, and has directly impacted our industry by causing a de facto shut down in production as there is simply no more space to store product,” Bliley added.

Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) general counsel Ed Hubbard, in his testimony said, “Due to an uncharacteristic winter, rail shipments of all commodities have been significantly delayed across the country. For ethanol, the congestion has led to a dramatic delay in ethanol shipments to fuel terminals, and caused shutdowns of operations at ethanol plants because they can’t continue to store product while awaiting rail carriers to move their product.” Continue reading

Community Solar Arrives in Massachusetts

Community Solar has arrived in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Clean Energy Collective (CEC) has selected RGS Energy as the general contractor for the solar facilities. RSG Energy will provide engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) services for two large solar arrays of nearly 1 megawatt (MW) each owned and operated by CEC.

One community solar garden will be located in Hadley, Massachusetts and will serve customers of Western Massachusetts Electric Company (WMECo). The second community Clean Energy Collective logogarden will be deployed in Rehoboth, Massachusetts to serve National Grid customers. Construction has already begun on the two sites, with interconnection planned for the end of June.

“As the first community-owned solar model in Massachusetts, these projects represent a new enabler for increased solar adoption, where owners of individual solar panels can reduce their home or business electric utility bill with solar power, while at the same time reducing their carbon footprint in a meaningful way,” said Kam Mofid, CEO of RGS Energy.

Both facilities will employ 300-watt panels, inverters by Advanced Energy, racking from RBI Solar, and monitoring systems provided by Ambient Weather.

CEC President Paul Spencer stressed the value RGS Energy brings to the solar projects. “RGS Energy is the ideal partner for us in implementing these facilities. With their outstanding systems engineering and deployment capabilities and their national footprint, they can ensure our individual project specifications are delivered on time and to the highest standards.”

CASE Applauds Bloomberg for Defending Solar Industry

Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg called U.S. tariffs on solar panels harmful to the American public during his comments at Bloomberg New Energy Finance Summit held in New York. In his remarks, Bloomberg called tariffs on solar panels and solar cells imported from China protectionist policies, pointing out that, “the Chinese have done us this enormous favor of selling us solar panels below the price that we can make them.”

CASE-logo“I applaud Michael Bloomberg for speaking out against U.S. tariffs on solar products and for exposing the misguided protectionism that is currently resulting in higher prices of solar energy to consumers,” said Coalition for Affordable Solar Energy President Jigar Shah. “The overwhelming majority of U.S. solar companies have embraced the global nature of our highly-specialized industry and are successfully leveraging cost savings to create over 140,000 American jobs – most of which are in installation on American rooftops. Higher tariffs only mean higher prices, which ultimately leave U.S. solar companies unable to compete on cost, and deny the American public access to affordable solar energy.

Shah continued, “This topic is extremely relevant since we‘re in the midst of a second trade case, calling for additional tariffs on imported solar panels and cells from China and Taiwan. Continued uncertainty and rounds of legal cases are not the paths to sustainable growth for the U.S. solar industry. As Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) also noted during his remarks at the Summit on Monday, ‘a lack of predictability can hurt our nation’s clean energy investment.’ I agree with Senator Wyden, and note that the damage caused by uncertain solar trade barriers creates the same uncertainty that changing government programs and tax policies have on the broader renewable energy industry. Now is the time to negotiate an equitable solution to the solar trade petitions that will bring confidence back to the market and lay the groundwork for the U.S. solar industry’s continued success.”

Minnesota Biodiesel Mandate: I’m Not Dead Yet!

mdalogo1Minnesota’s biodiesel mandate, looking like it could take a hit, has risen up like a Monty Python character and shouted back, “I’m NOT dead yet!” Recently, we told you how the mandate was facing an uncertain future, as the date to finally move to B10, a 10 percent blend of the green fuel, is coming this year. But that put it dangerously close to another milestone of moving to B20 next year. But this article from Biodiesel Magazine says a compromise piece of legislation looks like it could preserve the mandate… just at a slower pace.

State Representative Clark Johnson is an ardent supporter of the biodiesel industry. Last month he introduced a bill for the agriculture department and the biodiesel industry seeking to modify future requirements regarding exceptions, what months higher blends should be required, and the date on which the state will jump from B10 to B20. His bill, House File 3203, missed a deadline to move forward, but Charlie Poster, assistant commissioner at the Minnesota Department of Agriculture, says the agency has made concessions to opponents of the increased biodiesel mandate by incorporating HF 3203’s language into an agency “unsession” bill (SF 2618) that is moving forward.

“The bill that’s signed into law probably won’t be HF 3203, but it will be that language,” Poster tells Biodiesel Magazine. “There was a movement by the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers and the Minnesota Automobile Dealers Association (MADA),” Poster says. “They had some concerns about biodiesel, and they wanted to see the biodiesel mandate gutted—and I don’t think that’s too strong of a word. They were proposing some language that, in all but name, would remove our biodiesel standard. And the Department of Agriculture’s position is that biodiesel has worked really well in our state. It’s lowered the price of diesel fuel. It’s added to farmers’ incomes. It’s doing exactly what we want it to do. It’s been a great success.”

The article goes on to say that in order to appease opponents of biodiesel, the agency made four concessions: 1. Move the B20 date to 2018; 2. Shorten by one month the “summer” months part of the mandate, making it April-September; 3. Make permanent some exceptions for nuclear power plants, railroads, mining, logging and the Coast Guard; and 4. Extend the biodiesel blending waiver for No. 1 fuel to May 1, 2020.

Clean Energy Bill Hits House of Reps

Clean Energy Victory Bonds WillSeveral groups have been promoting clean energy victory bonds, a throwback from World War II. This week the concept gained support as the House of Representatives as the Clean Energy Victory Bonds Act of 2014. The Treasury bonds starting as low as $25 will allow Americans to invest in the country’s clean energy future.

The bill was introduced by U.S. Reps. Zoe Lofgren (D-Cali.) and Doris Matsui (D-Cali.) and includes 14 co-sponsors and is endorsed by Green America and the American Sustainable Business Council, which together represent half a million consumers, companies, organizations, and investors.

Todd Larsen, corporate responsibility division director for Green America, said, “This bond is modeled after the successful WW II Victory Bond which millions of Americans purchased. The Clean Energy Victory Bond will provide individual and institutional investors with the opportunity to invest in clean energy sectors such as solar, wind, second generation biofuels, electric vehicles, and residential and commercial energy efficiency programs. There are currently few investment opportunities for the average investor interested in supporting the shift to a clean energy economy so this bond fills a need for both investors and industry.”

Clean Energy Victory Bonds logoAccording to Green America and the American Sustainable Business Council, Clean Energy Victory Bonds will create the following major benefits:

  • Leverage $50 billion investment to provide up to $150 billion in public and private financing to fund the production of innovative energy technologies, at a time when the U.S. is falling behind other countries in clean energy manufacture and installation.
  • Help create at least one million competitively-paying jobs in the U.S.
  • Support America’s clean energy sector, helping to ensure that the U.S. remains a world leader in this increasingly crucial and competitive industry.
  • Reduce U.S. dependence on foreign sources of energy, enhance national security, and limit price increases and fluctuations.
  • Provide a secure, competitive, government-backed investment vehicle for average Americans and investment institutions alike seeking a safe place for their money.
  • Offer flexible redemption options at interest rates superior to most bank accounts.
  • Help all Americans to invest in the future of their country and benefit from their investments.
  • Promote a cleaner environment through the financing of clean energy technologies.
  • Protect the health and safety of Americans by reducing local air and water pollution throughout the country.

“From a business perspective, the Clean Energy Victory Bond makes great sense,” said Richard Eidlin, co-founder & policy director, American Sustainable Business Council. “The clean energy industry has not had the steady flow of financial support that investors and business need to plan effectively, resulting in investors often deciding to place their investments overseas rather than in the U.S.”

Tax incentives for renewable energy come and go, often without predictability, leaving investors and industry scrambling. The Clean Energy Victory Bond would extend vital tax credits for a decade, giving emerging industries the support they need to develop and become increasing competitive.

Weather Channel Features Juhl Energy

The Weather Channel recently featured a segment filmed at the Honda Transmission Manufacturing of America plant located in Russells Point, Ohio that includes an onsite wind project developed by Juhl Energy and is owned and operated by ConEdison Solutions. David honda wind powered plantMalkoff visited the plant that is the site of the first major auto manufacturing facility in the U.S. to get a majority of its electricity from wind energy located on its property.

The two operating wind turbines, with blades that are approximately 160 feet long installed on 260-foot towers, are expected to supply nearly 10 percent of the plant’s electricity. Based on their location and actual wind speeds, the combined output from the two wind turbines is estimated at 10,000-megawatt hours (MWH) per year.

Tyler Juhl, VP of Juhl Energy Services, Inc. provided Malkoff and his production team with access to the towers and the amazing views from the top of the turbines. “It was great having The Weather Channel at the Honda facility and giving them an opportunity to show that renewable energy definitely has applications for the traditional manufacturing industry,” said Juhl.

“Wind power is our country’s fastest-growing energy source, and The Weather Channel’s coverage is an ideal way to help Americans appreciate wind power’s many applications,” said Jorge Lopez, CEO of ConEdison Solutions. “We are delighted that The Weather Channel chose to showcase this facility.”

BioEnergy Bytes

  • BioEnergyBytesDFIncBio, a Portuguese engineering company specializing in state of the art fully automated industrial ultrasonic Biodiesel plants, has just secured an agreement to supply a 55,000 MT/year transesterification plant, for an undisclosed client in South America. It will incorporate IncBio’s ultrasonic technology to produce biodiesel from locally produced palm oil, and Ion Exchange resin towers for purification. IncBio expects the plant to be complete by December 2014.
  • Energy efficiency targets implemented in half of U.S. states in 2012 saved enough electricity to power 2 million homes for a year. These are the findings of Energy Efficiency Resource Standards: A New Progress Report on State Experience, a new report released by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, based on the most recently available data. The report also finds that most states met or exceeded their targets and that these targets are making substantial contributions to national energy savings.
  • According to a recent report from Navigant Research, worldwide sales of electric and alternative fuel vehicles will grow from 6.6 million in 2014 to nearly 12.4 million in 2022. Government incentives, consumer desire for more fuel-efficient, cleaner forms of transportation, and fleet managers’ interest in lower-cost operations are all driving growth in electric vehicles (EVs) and alternative fuel vehicles, including ones powered by fuel cells and natural gas.
  • To commemorate the official unveiling of the Solar Impulse 2, Altran is offering viewers the opportunity to discover Bertrand Piccard’s new plane in a special “behind-the-scenes” program to be broadcast on altran.tv on April 10, 2014. This program will be available in replay. At the end of the program Altran will be unveiling the first images from Mission Altran, The Solar Impulse Experience, a large-scale simulation game that will be launched on Facebook.

Americans Vote for Biofuels

According to a new national poll conducted by American Viewpoint on behalf of the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA), Americans support the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) and other key federal initiatives that support the expanded use of biofuels such as ethanol. Sixty-five percent of adults support the RFS, up from 61 percent in 2012.

E85 pump in Ottumwa Iowa

Photo: Joanna Schroeder

Bob Dinneen, RFA president and CEO said of the poll results, “It is telling that support for the RFS continues to grow in spite of the relentless attacks on ethanol and the RFS financed by Big Oil’s deep pockets. Repeatedly Americans have decisively said they place a premium on energy independence, job creation, and a cleaner environment.”

For these reasons and more, Americans overwhelmingly support the RFS for its ability to strengthen this great nation,” continued Dinneen. “Members of Congress and the Obama Administration should review this data before taking action to reduce or eliminate a program with broad national appeal and tangible energy and environmental benefits.”

Expanding on the polling results, Dinneen added, “Americans see great value in investing in the next generation of fuel, cellulosic ethanol, and they support the idea of an open fuel standard which encourages the manufacturing of cars that run on any number of alternatives to petroleum. In fact, Americans appear to have a visceral dislike for the billions and billions of dollars in government subsidies and special tax treatment that Big Oil has enjoyed for 100 years.”

Sixty-six percent of the respondents favor incentives for the expansion of cellulosic ethanol while 78 percent of respondents favor auto manufacturers to build cars that will run on fuel other than oil. In addition, 66 percent of respondents oppose oil company subsidies while only 22 percent favor oil subsidies.

Continue reading

Mexico Soon to be Home of Major Solar Project

Weymouth, Massachusetts based Vertex Companies is partnering in the development of a 30 megawatt solar electric power plant located in Zacatecas, Mexico. When complete, this project will be one of the largest of its kind in Latin America.

The announcement was made during the Massachusetts – Mexico Innovation Partnership Mission. The joint announcement was made by Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick and Zacatecas Governor Miguel Alonso Reyes.

Vertex ZacsL solar projectVERTEX has operated for over a decade in the Mexican market as Vertex Ingenieros Consultores, S. de R.L. de C.V., completing dozens of energy and environmental projects in a variety of industries. In Zacatecas, VERTEX is collaborating with local Mexican partners to develop the first utility-scale solar PV project in the state and one of the largest in Latin America overall. The 30 MW ZacSol 1 project is the first phase of up to 90 MW that will be installed near the municipality of Guadalupe over the next several years. With an estimated $92 million investment in Zacatecas that will create approximately 400 construction and operational jobs, this first phase represents a significant step forward for Mexico in realizing their solar potential.

Mexico has progressive renewable energy policies, high fossil-based electricity prices, and the third highest solar insolation in the world. According to the Inter-American Development Bank, Mexico has a potential for 45 GW of solar energy. SENER, Mexico’s Energy Department, recently reported that solar PV projects are profitable without government subsidies with Northern and Central Mexican projects typically breaking even after only two years.